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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January 15, 2013


On the Road to Mastery

Success Planner Added to Help Students Plan Successfully

A couple of years ago, the Connecticut State Department of Education mandated that every high school in the state develop a student success plan designed for students to be successful in and beyond high school.  Makes sense, right?  The CT State Board of Education, in the process, adopted a rather ambitious position statement on measuring student success. What follows is an excerpt - "The State Board of Education defines successful students as those who can read, write, compute, analyze information, think critically and creatively, solve problems, communicate effectively, and use technology. All students should also enjoy and perform in the arts and athletics, and understand history, science, and other cultures and languages. Each student must share ample responsibility for his or her learning and behavior, be able to persevere at complex tasks, work well with and be helpful to others, and contribute to the community. All students must graduate from high school and be prepared to continue their education, become productive members of the workforce and function in the global economy. Ultimately, students must become engaged citizens and lifelong learners who lead healthy and productive lives." Of course missing from this position statement are all of the benchmarks that define success in each of these areas. Without them, who is to say when success has been reached? How would we know? That is now, in part, left for high schools to decide.
 
Whether mandated or not, it makes sense that students should put a plan in place that leads to a successful experience in high school and beyond. And the EOSHS Guidance Department is helping students to do just that, recognizing at the same time that the state mandate requires full participation from the entire school community. 

Success Planner, a brand new feature in the Naviance suite of options, was recently added to the EOS Naviance Program. Among its many features is the capacity to build electronic portfolios over four years, keeping everything in one place and making it accessible from any Internet connection. Other features allow students to set goals, complete tasks assigned to them, create to-do lists for themselves, connect to-dos to goals, and add reflections on goals and tasks.

What's more, counselors and teachers can assign standard or custom tasks, monitor goals and tasks, and comment on these goals and tasks. EOS counselors have already assigned grade-level tasks for students to complete.
 
Anyway, the EOSHS Guidance Department has moved towards an objective that will see every student with a plan for success. Called the Student Success Plan (SSP), it is an electronic portfolio that is constructed over a four-plus-year period.  The CSDE mandate calls for the SSP to begin in 6th grade and conclude near the end of each student's senior year. This SSP includes cognitive and affective data that should help students determine readiness for success with post secondary options and it should help them to choose their options wisely.  When adding academic/cognitive data gathered elsewhere from faculty and staff, the SSP should provide a road map to success beyond high school.
 
Counselors are meeting with 9th graders this week during their PE classes, helping students to build tentative four-year plans of study in Course Planner while also selecting courses for the 2013-14 school year.  Tenth-graders will continue to build their SSPs during the first week of the second semester.

If it wasn't such a cliche, I'd say that failing to plan is planning to fail. But it is. So, I won't.


What Is Course Planner?
 
Students (and parents) can access "Course Planner" (mentioned above) by logging in to their accounts and clicking on the "Courses" tab in the menu bar. From there, four-year plans of study may be reviewed simply by clicking on course plans. Several plans are available and each is based upon the kind of schools - defined by competitiveness (how difficult it is to be accepted - the lower the percentage of students accepted, the more competitive it is) - that a student may wish to pursue. By clicking on any one of the plans, you will see the types of courses available to choose from that will comprise a four-year plan of study compatible with the kinds of competitive schools for that particular category. For example, a student interested in attending a highly competitive school would click on that plan and see that the vast majority of courses from which to choose would be at the "A" level. What is not taken into consideration are the grades that a student earns in these courses. Rather, the strength of the four-year plan is based upon the challenges posed by one's course selections.

A design flaw that Naviance has not yet corrected relates to the schools of interest that are listed below the "meter" that measures strength of schedule. A plan that may be appropriate for admission to ECSU may not be sufficient for acceptance to UConn, even though Naviance is indicating otherwise. For more accurate feedback, students should speak with their counselors. Still, Course Planner may be very useful in the course selection process when taking into consideration post secondary aspirations.
 
A New Year Brings Hope for Changing Habits

 You've surely heard this before - that human beings are creatures of habit.  Our lives are constructed upon a foundation of habits as they provide a certain structure to our daily lives.  But some habits are more constructive than others, and January 1 of each year seems to trigger a review of these habits.  After all, isn't this how new year's resolutions sprout?

Here is a book worth reading about habits  - The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.  For more information about the book and to hear an interview with the author click here. 

Would you really like to follow your new year resolutions throughout the year?  Give a few minutes to the interview and decide for yourself.

 
New Year's Resolution - Completing All Homework
 
For example, maybe completing homework regularly is an issue one would like to improve upon.  According to Duhigg, this is clearly a habit that one can change for the better.  And The College Board even offers tips on how to Take Control of Homework

Then again, there are some who feel that homework should be abolished - that it's an unnecessary burden that only interferes with family life and other more important endeavors.  Some even wonder if homework should be factored into a student's grade.  For a take on this perspective, you may want to read Today's Assignment: The End of Homework.
 
 
Look for Information About the Course Selection Process
 
The 2013-14 course selection process will soon begin.  The Power School portal will be open in early February and students will be able to select next year's courses at that time.  Look for more information about this in the next post. 
 

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